Christmas is a couple of days away, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late for a little DIY
presents to show your love to the ones that mean the most to you. There’s nothing like a
homemade gift to show someone you care. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite, last
minute homemade Christmas (Father’s Day/Hanukah/Valentine’s Day/Birthday/etc)
presents. What I love about this list is that these things don’t take a lot of skill or even
time. Some of them are free or nearly free, and all of them are lowbudget. These
projects are geared towards families with children, but most could be adapted for anyone,
Materials Needed: Sharpies, a white T shirt, a toy car.
This year, my daughter and I made a Daddy Massage shirt based on an idea we saw on
Pinterest. Basically, I took one of Daddy’s many white undershirts (he won’t even miss it!)
and used permanent markers to draw a road scape on the back. Then my daughter and I
worked together to color it in. We wrapped it up including one of my daughter’s toy cars
in the box and voila, instant handmadewithlove present from my daughter to her Daddy.
The best part about this present is that it comes with quality time. It’s a present Bunny
and Daddy can enjoy together. Bunny will play with it and Daddy will relax as she plays.
Well, that’s the plan, anyway.
Personalized Coffee Mug:
Materials Needed: White ceramic mug, sharpies.
Find a cheap ceramic mug at your local dollar store or thrift store. Make sure the mug is
clean. Grab a couple of permanent markers and have your little one add their creative
art. (You might want to have the child don a smock or apron if they’re still messy with
markers). When you’re done, bake the mug for 2030 minutes at 350 degrees, though
some people suggest a higher temperature such as 425. Also, if you want the design to
stay longer, it would be best to hand wash this cup. After baking, please allow it to cool
before wrapping or using.
NoSew Tshirt scarf:
Materials Needed: T shirt, fabric scissors
Grab an old T shirt that’s destined for the Goodwill—or go to the Goodwill and buy one.
Cut across the entire shirt under the armpits. At the unhemmed side of this circle, cut
fringes all the way around. That’s it. It’s ready to wear. A stylish scarf that any Mom (or
girl, for that matter) will love. *Note: You should use fabric scissors when cutting fabrics
and they are sharper than regular scissors, thus parental guidance is a must for this
For the adoring relatives
Materials needed: A large white or offwhite candle, tissue paper, wax paper, a blow dryer
or embossing gun.
Buy a thick candle from a craft store. You may be able to find one at the dollar store, but
in my experience, they don’t have a good selection of tall, thick candles. Cut out a piece
of white tissue paper that is the size of the candle in height and width. Use crayons,
markers, paint, or colored pencils to decorate the tissue paper. Cut a piece of wax paper
that is slightly taller than the candle and long enough that you can wrap the candle in it
and still have enough wax paper left to hold it with your hand. Wrap the candle in the
tissue paper, placing it carefully so that the design is where you want it, and keeping it
taut. Then, lay the candle in the wax paper, wrapping the wax paper carefully around the
entire thing so that the tissue paper is held snugly against the candle with no wrinkles.
Use the extra length of wax paper as a handle. Grab your embossing gun or blow dryer
turn it on, aiming it at the candle. Hold it far enough away that the candle doesn’t drip, but
close enough that it starts to melt. You just want the very outer layer of the candle to
melt. Blow the heat across the entire surface area of the candle that you want to bond
with your tissue paper art, turning the candle and readjusting where the wax paper lays if
necessary. When done, pull the wax paper away and let it dry. I’ve never done this
without having a wrinkle or two in my tissue paper, but I always get a cute candle to give
the relatives or keep for myself anyway.
There are many ways to make lovely Christmas ornaments for the family. I’ll give you two
First Option Materials Needed: cookie cutters, cardboard, yarn, and a little glue.
Use the cookie cutters to draw the shapes you want on your cardboard. Cut out these
shapes. Grab a length of yarn and wrap it around and around the shapes until it looks the
way you want it. Either knot the ends or use a little Elmer’s glue to secure them.
Attatch1`` some ribbon or more yarn into the wrapped yarn to hang it to your tree.
Second Option Materials Needed: Plain white ceramic ornaments, Sharpies.
Find some plain white, ceramic ornaments at your local fabric store. Use sharpies to
decorate the ornaments. Bake them for 20 minutes at 350 and let them cool before
For the Kids
Materials Needed: a hula hoop, a dowel rod, some twine/rope, a couple of magnets, a
hole punch, some paper clips, and cardstock/laminated paper/felt. You’ll also need fabric
paint if you go for the felt option.
A fishing game is definitely one of the best ideas ever for little kids. I used this idea to
teach colors and numbers to my Spanish students back when I taught kindergarteners
and it was a huge hit. Now that I’m taking it out of storage for this blog post, my daughter
is eagerly fishing as I write and she cant get enough of it. To make these you cut fish out
of cardstock or felt and decorate each one with a number (fabric paint will make great
numbers on felt) before coloring each one a different color (obviously, it won’t be
necessary to color the fish if you use felt). If you want to use shapes or letters instead of
numbers, that would work too. Affix a paperclip to the nose of each fish. Punching out a
hole at the nose will give the paper clips a place to hold onto, but it’s not absolutely
necessary. Place your fish on the floor inside a hula hoop and you have a fish pond.
Now, cut your dowel to the correct length (or have the kind people at Lowe’s or Home
Depot do it for you), and drill a hole into the end. Thread some thick twine or thin rope
through the hole and attach a magnet to the end—a circular one is best if you can find it.
The kids will have fun for hours with this game!
Materials Needed: Large boxes, duct tape, box cutters
*This project should be initially constructed by an adult*
This is a really open ended project. You can either just use one, large box, or a couple of
them and put them together. It doesn’t matter. Your child’s just going to love it because
what child doesn’t love cardboard boxes? Sometimes, we wonder why we take the time
to buy the things in the boxes anyway! As the giver of this gift, all you need to do is the
initial construction. Cut windows and doors, duct tape a couple of smaller boxes to the
sides for other rooms or secret passage ways, and place it under the Christmas tree
covered in a blanket and topped with a bow. Couple it with a brand new package of
crayons or markers and you’ve given your kid hours of entertainment. Of course, you can
buy these premade, colorityourself forts in the store, but why bother when cardboard
boxes are free?
Materials Needed: small boxes, duct tape, box cutters, glue, clamps
*This project should be constructed by an adult*
Again, this is a pretty open ended project. Grab 48 boxes of similar size and stack them
together, gluing them and taping them where necessary. My husband and I found it
necessary to use clamps and heavy books to keep the boxes together while the glue was
drying. Use your box cutters to cut off any flaps and make doors and windows. Leave
the doll house empty but wrap a box filled with scraps of paper, fabric, ribbons, thread
spools, etc and let your child be an interior decorator. I even took portraits of each of my
daughter’s dollies so that she could decorate with the dollies’ family portraits. It added a
personal touch that she really enjoyed. I’ll tell you from a child’s perspective, they’ll love
it. My grandmother made me and my sisters a dollhouse like this when I was a child and
gave us lots of scraps to use to decorate it and we played with it for hours. My favorite
part was the decorating.
Materials Needed: the lid of a cardboard box, sharpies, toy cars. Optional: tiny people,
road signs, building blocks, etc.
This will be made similarly to the Daddy Massage shirt, except your roadmap will be
drawn inside the lid of a cardboard box (think copy paper boxes). You can either just
draw the outline of a town and let your little ones color it in upon opening the present, or
you can color it for them. Package it with a couple of toy cars and some other town
pieces such as street signs, little people, and buildings, or just let the kids use the tiny
toys they already have. Bunny has a great city blocks set from Melissa & Doug that
would work great with this present and I know she would take all her Polly Pocket dolls
and give them a ride around this town in her toy cars and trains.
Materials Needed: Cardstock, ziplock bag. Optional: Glue and cardboard.
Print out a family photo, or an image from the internet of your child’s favorite Sesame
Street character onto a piece of cardstock. Cut it into jagged pieces. Place in ziplock bag
and gift to your child. If you’d like to make the puzzle more sturdy, glue the cardstock
photo to a piece of cardboard first before cutting out the pieces. It would also be helpful
to include a smaller version of the photo or picture for the child to refer to while putting the
For the ladies
Materials Needed: stretchy string, beads
Knot one, large bead at the end of a string, and then set your preschooler or child down
with a bucket of beads and the string. Let them string the beads to their heart’s content,
and they’ll tell you when they’re done. They will get some wonderful play and hand/eye
coordination time while they make something for a friend or relative they can be really
proud of. If you use stretchy string (found in the jewelry section of your craft store), it’s
more likely that the necklace will fit a wide variety of women and girls, but you could use
regular twine as well.
Materials Needed: Includes but is not limited to sea salt, Epsom salt, oatmeal, essential
oils, etc. Canning jars and decorative fabric and ribbons, a printer, paper.
There are so many great recipes for bath salts online. One year I decided to hand make
my presents for everyone and I was delighted to find that bath salts were very easy to
make. Google “bath salts recipe” online and choose your favorite one. Mix the
ingredients from your recipe into a bowl and then divvy them among several mason jars.
Print out instructions for using the bath salts and the ingredients if you’re concerned about
allergies. Attach instructions to the jar and cover with the lids and some decorative
Who doesn’t love to eat? Bake your favorite treat or a variety of your favorites, place
them on a pretty, paper plate and cover with cellophane. Top with a ribbon and a card
and everyone will be pleased.
Materials Needed: A container, a variety of fruit and other yummy treats.
A fruit basket is a variation of baked goods. You can put pretty much anything into it as
well. First, find a container. It doesn’t have to be a basket. A mixing bowl or Tupperware
type container will work. Find your container and then go to your grocery store and grab
a couple bags of whatever is in season (generally citrus and apples at Christmas time),
add some bags of pretzels or goldfish, a handful of wrapped candy, and top the whole
thing with a plate of cookies (home made is preferable). Include a card/note/photo and
wrap it in pretty cellophane.
No-sew fleece scarf:
This is pretty easy to make. Go to JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby, or any other local fabric store
and grab some remnant, nopill fleece from the bin (Remnants are usually discounted) It
is important that you use fleece and not another type of fabric as the ends won’t unravel
when cut and hemming is not necessary. Cut out a scarfsize strip of fabric with the
stretch is lengthwise and not widthwise. Cut some fringes on the ends. You’ll have a
simple scarf that anyone will to wear that was made with love by a child (or even their
parents). *Note: You should use fabric scissors when cutting fabrics and they are sharper
than regular scissors, thus parental guidance is a must for this project.
Rice hot pads:
Materials: Fabric, sewing machine, dry rice.
Cut out a square/rectangle/circle, etc of fabric ¼ inch bigger all around than what you
want the final product to be. Sew a ¼ inch seam around the fabric with the right sides
together leaving 23 inches open. Turn it right side out and stuff it with rice. Hand stitch
the open end together with a baseball stitch. The user will microwave this for a minute or
two and can use it for aches and pains or just for putting in their pockets to keep their
hands warm in the winter.
Christmas presents don’t really have to be fancy or expensive. With a few inexpensive
ingredients and a lot of things we already have around the house, we can express our
love through giving without spending a lot of money or time. The best part about these
DIY presents is that they all include an ingredient that many store bought gifts don’t—
love. And that’s the most important ingredient of all!
Kim H Date 12/22/2013
Love these ideas - especially the fishing game - I might have to make that sometime! We are making salt dough ornaments for their grandmas tomorrow - I feel like I've waited till the last minute this year!
Mary Date 12/23/2013
The massage shirt is really cute! I'm going the cookies and candle route for our friends.
judith martinez Date 12/24/2013
I have a pattern for a really cute crocheted fishing game. Eventually I will make it!
Samantha Yoder Date 12/26/2013
I love the daddy shirt idea! I'm gonna have to keep that one in mind for Father's Day!
vickie couturier Date 1/6/2014
some neat ideals,I would have never thought of these,I let my grandsons make gifts for their parents,I get construction paper some paint an let me put their hands in the paint an make a yearly hand prints for them,you can see each year how much they have grown
Erin Rothfus Date 1/16/2014
The Daddy Massage shirt is such a great idea!! I'm definitley going to keep that in mind for next year.
Jen C Date 12/5/2014
I can't wait to start making these things with my baby!